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Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

anxious-people-frederick-backman-book-review-jeanne-blasbergAnxious People by Fredrik Backman

With an equal measure of humor and philosophy, Backman’s latest work examines the intricacies of family and home and the anxiety we feel over getting it right. The novel’s structure engaged me from the very beginning with its omniscient voice moving two steps forward and then one step backward, telling what the novel was about in a way that was delightfully unreliable. And as the dots connected and puzzle pieces began to fit together, the experience of this novel was as much an intellectual exercise as a dive into the neuroses of its many delightful characters. I was struck by Backman’s ability to develop all eight characters in a hostage situation so masterfully. The book goes beyond story telling and is a plea for compassion in this crazy world. It will have you laughing at our foibles and universal oddities, its observations are really spot on. I listened to the audio version of Anxious People and the narrator did an incredible job of giving each speaking character a voice of their own. I highly recommend this book!

 

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Marnye Young

An Interview with Narrator, Marnye Young

Jeannie: How did you get into narrating?

Marnye: I am an actor who was trying to figure out a way to spend more time with my twin toddlers and a friend of mine who has done very well for herself in the audiobook business told me I would be perfect for it and that was it. I produced my first few books on my own and then I got so much work that I teamed up with a few producers and continue to work with them.

Jeannie: Where do you work?

Marnye: I work in the studio I built at the back of my house.

 

Jeannie: How many hours do you put in for a 10 hour produced work?

Marnye: It depends. I read the text and take notes on character accents, plot points, ideas for vocal silhouettes, etc, so perhaps about 13 hours to do that and then if I am producing it I need about two hours for every hour I narrate to edit proof and master. If I hire a producer than it takes me about 11 or so hours to narrate a ten-hour book and then my producers work their magic 🙂

 

Jeannie: What are your favorite kinds of books to narrate?

Marnye: I love, love mysteries! I also love historical fiction–that was my second major in College and the curiosity and fascination with history has stayed with me, and of course fantasy. (I get to play in an extremely different world than the one we are in today.)

 

Jeannie: What are the most challenging sections to narrate?

Marnye: Highly emotional scenes: sometimes you need a bunch of takes to get to the best one.

 

Jeannie: How do you take special care of your voice?

Marnye: I don’t. I’m too busy narrating. Lol! No seriously hydration, hydration, hydration, and a lot of throat coats tea.

 

Jeannie: What is the most interesting thing about narrating?

Marnye: I think what people may not realize is that narration really is acting. I get to step into many people’s shoes from all walks of life and live their lives, their failures and their triumphs, shed tears and laugh out loud. I breathe with the characters–as the characters. It is thrilling.

 

I so enjoyed working with Marnye. You can learn more about Marnye’s work here.

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Audiobook Faves

I spilled the beans in my last blog post that
I’m a huge fan of the audiobook and that with the diminishing time I find to sit down, I’m devouring books through my ears instead.  I especially enjoy listening to books that have a lot of dialogue and/or accents (even when reading with my eyes is an option).  One such example of a great “listen” is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Another  I recently enjoyed with a myriad of voices from three generations of a family was Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I also loved listening to Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale because it was narrated masterfully by Claire Dane of “Homeland” fame.

Tomorrow morning I begin my roadshow!  Driving to the New York area for three days of EDEN book events.  I’m already excited to wake up and start the drive because I just downloaded Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi…

Here’s a screen shot of the last 6 books I’ve listened to …   Let me know in the comment box below what your favorite audiobooks are.

Eden Audible

EDEN: The Audiobook

Having a book in my hands is a luxury.  That is, sitting upright in a chair and reading an actual book is a luxury. Reading by daylight is almost a holy enterprise, the things vacations are made of.  Even so, my consumption of literature has never been greater.  When I’m driving, walking my dog, or doing housework I’m usually taking in an audiobook.  Yes, it’s efficient, and who doesn’t love being read to?

The selection on Audible has become outstanding over the past seven or eight years, and I’ve been known to buy a book in multiple formats (i.e. Kindle with audio) so that I can finish up before a book club meeting. I confess I’ve even (I might sound totally crazy now) gotten used listening to books at 1.5x speed. It’s still possible to linger over the language… I’ll rewind in order to listen to favorite chapters over again.

So, is it any wonder producing EDEN as an audiobook was a high priority?  My followers requested audio early on, and I could relate.  I just hadn’t prepared myself for how FUN it would be.  A fellow She Writes Press author, Anjali Mitter Duva,  spent a lunch explaining her experience with the Audio Creation Exchange (ACX) platform.  Sometimes that’s all it takes – a demystification of the process – and somebody else’s positive report, to get you going.  ACX is an Audible platform that matches up authors and audiobook producers.  It provides a standard contract with several transactional options, and simplifies the process to give authors access to hundreds of actors who do voice work for a living.  I indicated whether I wanted a male or female, the age, and type of voice.  I had about a dozen options such as: intellectual, serious, comedic, sexy, versatile, sarcastic and so on. (My wise guy husband suggested EDEN in a sexy voice.) After uploading a five minute script onto ACX (I chose scenes with several characters and a lot of dialogue), the project was out for  audition.

That’s when the fun began. Within hours I was receiving emails, asking more information about the characters’ relationships in order to do the best possible audition. It was like being in the theatre giving direction. Within 24 hours, I received about 25 auditions. Listening to the auditions was amazing. Hearing my words come to life was powerful. The transition from the written word to the spoken word (and not in my own voice) expands the imagination. Scenes took on color, accompanied by a voice, a baby step toward a visual medium.

It took about five days for me to listen to all the auditions and narrow them down to a final 4 or 5. ACX  provides the opportunity to check out an actor’s past work. So I spent time with some of the other books that my finalists had narrated. This was helpful. After pulling the trigger with a narrator, they have a day or so to read the first chapter for approval, then commit to a deadline for the entire project. I designated 6 weeks out for the completion of EDEN. My book is about 100,000 words and the final audiobook was estimated to be approximately 10 hours. I paid my narrator a rate per produced hour upon satisfactory completion of the recording. The other contractual option is to share future royalties.

I had a great time working with Marnye Young, EDEN’s narrator. We immediately started an email exchange and followed each other on social media.  Is was fun to see her enthusiasm for EDEN through her posts.  Once she provided the completed audiobook on ACX, I listened intently in order to give final approval. Listening to my book in its entirety was amazing. An avid audio customer myself, I’d be walking down the street listening on my iPhone, and know the next line that was going to be spoken a funky combination of hearing mixed with memory… because oh yeah… it’s my book!

After ACX completes quality control, EDEN: A Novel will be available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Voila!